Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Q: I don't own a cellphone or have cable TV. What is the most polite way to respond to people who look at me like I've grown a second head when I tell them I can't "text" them or call them from every spot on the earth? I don't think I need to be wired to the world 24/7 to be a complete person. My workplace and friends think otherwise and have been quite aggressive about trying to correct this problem they think I have. I don't want to be rude, but I don't want to delve into a long story about my lifestyle. What would you recommend as a clean and simple reply?
A: "I'm not preaching to you to unplug, because that's your business. My choices are my business. Deal?" Anyone who pushes further needs to be ignored. "I'm changing the subject now" works well.
Anonymous: I certainly respect people's desire to unplug. But I find those who don't have cellphones are being amazingly selfish. When they are lost or running late, it's always "Oh, you know I don't have a cellphone." I understand people survived without them, but I have to say, I've slowly cut a few otherwise lovely friends out of my life. And I say this as a punctual person who never checks my cellphone, except when needed.
Carolyn: Wait — you "respect" something "amazingly selfish"? And isn't it selfish to want everyone to do things your way because you find their way inconvenient for you? What if some friends move to a neighborhood where you struggle to find parking; was their move selfish?
With the friends you describe, the problem is mostly manners and partly style, since you've staked out a clear area where all gadget use must fall to meet your approval. (Golly.)